The war on terror is similar to the Vietnam war, in that the real battle is for 'hearts and minds' in the USA, not military success. If the terrorists induce us to become a police state, and/or a christian theocracy, then they've won the war!
This is just not a war that can be won by killing all the terrorists. For each terrorist we kill, for each muslim we persecute and disenfranchise, for each innocent non-combatant that dies, more terrorists spring up. Terrorism can't be defeated by military operations. The islamic terrorists aren't interested in invading the US, conquering us to turn us into a vassal state. They hope to turn us onto ourselves by convincing us that our freedoms put us in danger. They succeed not by military victories but by fanning the flames of our fear. We have a whole segment of our population that benefits from fear-mongering. They're encouraging us to give up freedoms that have defined us as a nation, simply for the sake of an illusion of security. Turning the USA into a christian police state won't make us more secure - it will be the fulfillment of the dark vision of Orwell's 1984. We can win this war only by conquering our fear.
Why have muslims left their homelands to come to the USA? I suppose this is seen by some to be a vast conspiracy, a fifth column festering within our borders, nests of snakes ready to strike when commanded by their muslim masters. But the reality is that most of them came to the USA to escape the tyranny of the theocracies running their homelands. They came to the USA for the same reason that most of our ancestors came to the USA - for freedom and for the economic opportunities they can develop for themselves, which they saw they couldn't have in their homelands. Any hidden terrorist cells within the American muslims must be a tiny, tiny minority. Persecuting American muslims by denying them the same rights all Americans are supposed to have only confirms islamic terrorist propaganda - that the USA has declared war on all of islam. It recruits terrorists.
At the start of WWII, the US shamefully interred Japanese, German, and Italian Americans (sometimes 2nd or 3rd generation Americans) simply because of their national origins. Not because they had done anything to cast suspicion on themselves. Just because they were connected, however tenuously, with governments with which we were at war. There was no attempt to sift the chaff from the wheat - all were guilty without cause or trial. This is a shameful episode in our history - a self-induced repudiation of the freedoms that we were at war at that very time to protect! It seems that today, some would have us follow that same path: to deny some of our citizens the very rights that many thousands of Americans have fought for and died to preserve. Martin Niemöller once wrote:
- They came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
- Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
- Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
- Then they came for me and by that time no one was left to speak up.
I repeat: it is our freedom that terrorists fear the most. Not our guns, not our bombs, not our technology. It is by standing as a beacon of civilized light in a sea of barbaric darkness that we Americans can defeat terrorism. We can't win by killing. We can't win by imposing ever-tightening security on ourselves, limiting our freedoms for the illusion of protection. We can't win by becoming mirror images of our enemies. The only thing we really have to fear ... is fear itself!